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We asked a panel of eight Telegraph Sport football experts to select their stand-out Premier League players from the season so far. Here, Chris Bascombe reveals the results of our poll for wide midfielders and wingers, and strikers.
There is only one bone of contention with the inclusion of Everton striker Andros Townsend as the stand-out wide midfielder of the first two months of the Premier League season; why isn’t Demarai Gray alongside him?
The duo are the early frontrunners in the race to be deemed bargains of the season and will take some catching if they maintain their current pace. Townsend absorbs his teammate’s votes for now because, as a free transfer who recently turned 30, nobody saw it coming (other than the player himself, Everton manager Rafa Benitez, and Townsend's mother who keeps sending him videos of his goals). Townsend’s Goodison story is reassuring. It proves that we all should stop judging transfers based on the size of a fee, the age of the player, or which club they last played for, especially when their new tactical instructions are so different. In Townsend’s case, it seems a change of scene and a manager encouraging him to think primarily about dashing forwards rather than chasing back has unlocked his most potent assets.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Watford’s Ismaila Sarr has immediately caught the attention, confirming the long-held expectation he will soon be playing for a Champions League club. He already has four Premier League goals.
Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva looked set to leave the club last summer, but has arguably been the champions’ best attacking player in the opening seven games, while there is a sound reason why Chelsea look a more potent force with Mason Mount than without him.
Another player who must be the subject of one of the top four’s scouting dossiers every weekend is Leeds’ Raphinha. He ticks every box, with three league goals to his name and currently the fourth highest shots-per-game ratio in the league, registering only four fewer in this campaign than Mohamed Salah.
Remember when there were questions asked about whether Salah would be a one-season wonder? The Egyptian is at the peak of his powers this season, every appearance seemingly a guarantee of a goal. He is the Premier League’s top goalscorer, has more shots-per-game than anyone, and is also in the top four of the assists table. Never mind the best striker of the first few months, he is currently the best player in the division, and probably in the world.
This year’s competition for the Premier League golden boot is far from a formality, though. Jamie Vardy has matched Salah’s goal haul in the league and continues to defy those wondering when age might slow him down. At 34, Vardy looks as fresh as ever, excelling despite a tricky start for Leicester.
West Ham’s Michail Antonio has been fundamental to the David Moyes revolution, firing the club into Europe last season and maintaining that form at the start of this one with five league goals already. With Antonio’s pace and power, the Hammers’ may soon establish themselves as annual European qualifiers. Only Salah has had more shots than Antonio this season.
And then there is Cristiano Ronaldo. It took Ronaldo no time to justify United’s desire to reunite with him, nor to demonstrate his predatory instincts. Ronaldo is more of a six yard box poacher these days, his uncanny ability to find space in congested penalty areas sure to see him near the top of the goal charts come the end of the season.
Beyond the race for the title and European places, Brentford’s Ivan Toney has been a breakthrough star of the new Premier League season, edging out Romelu Lukaku in our correspondents’ vote count.
Toney has only two league goals so far, but his overall impact typifies Brentford’s enterprising approach - no quarter given, no matter how esteemed the opponents.